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Cappamore-Tulla 70km

The most important 24 hours of the trip….catching up with 5 of my 6 first cousins in Co Limerick. The genetic connections are re-established, gaps in family history are being gradually filled in, new developments in the lives of offspring are revealed, and the all important visits to family graves are completed. The very stuff of family life.

I came away from Cappamore in beautiful sunshine to head for Limerick city, but a metaphorical cloud dimmed its rays when I miscalculated my distance from a kerb as I came off a roundabout. No sooner had I hit the deck when a young lady cyclist rushed to my assistance, and two drivers stopped to check me out. I ventured into a roadside pharmacy where a young lady pharmacist tended to my road rash, checked out other bumps and bruises, and soothed me with her soft Limerick brogue. Almost worth falling off the bike for…..

Limerick is the 4th largest city in Ireland, and has been a hotbed of resistance to English rule for centuries, and many key figures of the revolution came out of her, including Eamonn de Valera. So it came as a surprise to find that it had the oldest, and the most beautifully preserved, Church of Ireland (formerly Anglican) cathedrals in the whole country. Despite generations of animosity between the two religions, they now co-exist peacefully side by side, even though they may not be buried side by side in the cemeteries. 

And every town or city likes to pay homage to its celebrity sons and daughters. If you didn’t already know it, Terry Wogan was a Limerick man, and they have placed a bronze statue of the man prominently by the river.
Heading north into Co Clare, I wound my way through countless narrow country lanes in search of my Warmshowers hosts, Nick and Anne, living on their small holding deep in the countryside. Quite an extraordinary place, and my sleeping quarter for the night was a wooden cabin, with its outside shower and earth closet. I love the rustic simplicity…….this is 5* camping without the glamour of glamping……

Troomore-Kenmare

“Now, what would yer be doin’ roiding a ting loike that?”, pointing to my bike “yer wouldn’t be ridin’ it some bejesus long distance, would yer?” When I tell him he retorts: “Feck, what would be doin’ that for, would yer kindly tell me?”. Just one of many similar encounters I’ve had in just two days. I can’t stop for  a rest without being approached by someone….

I woke up this morning, gingerly set foot out onto dew-soaked grass, took in my surroundings, 

and did 30 minutes of yoga stretches overlooking the sea. This ancient megalith has been around for more than 4000 years, so I spent the night communing with our ancient ancestors.

My route took me through Bantry, the scene of attempted invasions from Catholic Europe to rescue these Catholic lands, then over a 7km climb out of Glengariff that provided stunning views of the valley and Bantry bay, and onto Kenmare, where I discovered this memorial in the cemetery, commemorating the deaths of 5000 of the locals during the dreadful famine in the 19th century.

My father’s ancestors had escaped the famine by emigrating to Cumbria from Co. Wicklow just a few years before, in 1840. Without mincing words, the British were responsible for genocide on a massive scale. But have we ever acknowledged it…..?

Cycle Magazine October 2016

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Bike meets its ‘fellow yellow’….

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